There may not be many things that the bosses of Microsoft and Google agree on, but here’s one: if you want to work at either company, you have to be a continuous learner.
COVID-19 highlighted the pace at which the world around us can change, and many organisations were left scrambling to adapt to new technologies and ways of working, which could have been avoided if continuous learning was an embedded habit. Staying informed and up to date is no longer a nice to have, its essential if we want to remain relevant.
Recent Gartner HR research found that “HR leaders are finding it increasingly difficult to quickly find and develop talent with the most in demand skills, yet 58% of the workforce needs new skills to get their jobs done”. So, whether you are a CEO or an employee, continuous learning should be at the top of your list.
Building a habit of continuous learning may just be the key skill we all need to survive and thrive in an unpredictable world. Continually updated skills and experience that are relevant, help make an individual employable and companies that can learn, adapt, and thrive will succeed.
What does a continuous learner look like?
Continuous learners are constantly seeking more knowledge and experiences. Whether it’s finding a new way of doing things, being curious outside their current roles or interests, or keeping up to date on current and future trends and technologies, they keep learning. They are flexible and able to rapidly adapt to change, which also makes them more resilient.
Continuous learners tend to be well connected and enjoy connecting others; they are likely to be active and visible on social media, both tracking and sharing the latest developments and what they have learnt.
So, how can we improve our ability to learn continually, and how can we be more efficient, so it’s fits into the flow of work and our daily lives?
The content curation experts from Anders Pink have pulled together 10 strategies you can use to become an efficient and effective continuous learner…
Strategy #1 – Determine your goal
Everyone needs motivation to learn something new. You may need to find the right inspiration to ensure you continue learning. Maybe you are frustrated with something and want to change it, or you have an inbuilt desire to do better. Perhaps it’s just fear of embarrassment at exposing what you don’t know. Whatever your motivation may be, find it and channel it into improving your skills, knowledge, and career prospects.
Strategy #2 – Be social
We are better learners when we collaborate. The idea of inspiration striking the reclusive genius is alluring, but rarely applies in the workplace. Sharing your ideas and building a network of experts who can help you is a vital step in modern workplace learning.
And it works both ways. Discussing what you’ve learned, and what you still want to figure out forces you to clarify your thinking or at least frame questions. It may bring insights you weren’t expecting.
Strategy #3 – Choose diverse sources
If NASA looks to collaborative platforms to help drive innovation when all the intelligence and tools should be at hand already, it’s clear that the answers can often be found where you might least expect them. As well as founding the Center of Excellence for Collaborative Innovation (CoECI), they also use collaborative tools across the agency to ensure that all sources are available to all departments.
Strategy #4 – Select your sources carefully
Too much of the wrong information will at best waste your time, and at worse misinform you. It is far more important to ensure the content you are consuming is quality.
For example, you will often find reference to an IDC report that found people waste 25% of their day searching and processing for information. However, this figure comes from 2001 and experts question how accurate this currently is. What is certain, however, is we all know from personal experience how much time and effort we can spend trawling through worthless information to find what we are looking for.
Strategy #5 – Look outside
Event-based, formal learning is often created to address narrowly defined goals. Learning and development professionals need to look beyond internal courses and resources to find what is relevant and empower others to do the same.
Strategy #6 – Bring the outside in
Enable continuous learning by providing a carefully curated stream of recent and relevant content, aligned to people’s interests. This needs to be made available in the right channels so it is easy to discover and consume.
Strategy #7 – Automate it
Nobody can learn for you, but automation can make it easier. For example, you could check your top 20 preferred sites for the latest insights for sales best practices every day. Or you could automate it and receive an aggregated feed based on your preferred terms and sources. The Anders Pink app updates twice a day.every four hours.
Strategy #8 – Learn regularly and often: avoid cramming
Space out your learning practice. Build micro habits around learning and get into a regular routine of setting aside time for learning. When digesting new information, pause, absorb, and move on. Take the time to allow it to go from your working memory into your long-term memory.
Strategy #9 – Reflect and work out loud
A Harvard Business School study on the importance of reflection in individual learning found that “thinking after completing tasks is no idle pursuit: It can powerfully enhance the learning process, and it does so more than the accumulation of additional experience on the same task”.
Strategy #10 – Have a growth mindset
Don’t limit yourself with a fixed mindset. Believe that everyone, including you, is capable of continuous improvement through learning and practice. See for yourself, here is one of our pre-made briefings with a collection of articles on Developing a Growth Mindset. Use the share icon to post what you’ve found to your social channels and encourage others to grow their minds and continuously learn.
At Anders Pink we believe in empowering people with knowledge. If you would like further information on how we can help your teams become better continuous learners by providing them with the right curated content, please get in touch. We would love to hear from you.